If the police were called to the scene of your car accident, then chances are a police report documenting the crash was generated. This report will typically include:
- the names and addresses of the parties involved in the accident (drivers, passengers)
- information on the vehicles involved
- details on the location of the accident, weather, road conditions, traffic signals and other devices
- a diagram of the accident scene and a summary of the facts of the accident
- statements made by the parties involved in the accident, and
- names, addresses and statements of any witnesses to the accident.
Even though police reports are not generally admissible in court, these reports still serve as a valuable tool in determining fault and deciding insurance claims (especially when it's time to talk settlement). Learn more about How Police Reports are Used After a Car Accident.
But what if the police report is not entirely accurate? If the police report contains a mistake, or if you disagree with or want to dispute the information contained in it, there are sometimes ways to remedy those errors.
Occasionally, a police report may contain factual errors or mistakes involving objective information. Factual errors might include, among other possibilities:
- the misspelling of driver/passenger/witness names
- driver's license or insurance status of one of the drivers
- the incorrect make or model of a vehicle involved
- the wrong insurance company name or policy number, or
- an inaccurate description of the location of the accident.
These types of factual errors are easily corrected since they are based on objective information that can be clearly proved or disproved. To correct a factual error, you usually need only provide proof of the correct information, often in the form of your vehicle registration, driver’s license or insurance information, etc. to the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene and prepared the report.
Upon receipt of the proper documentation, the agency can either correct the original report or, more likely, attach an addendum to the original explaining and correcting the factual error.
When a police report, from your point of view at least, contains an error related to disputable or subjective information, that kind of "error" is probably going to be lot harder to "correct."
Errors of disputed facts typically involve disagreements about the accounts or conclusions made in the police report. For example, if you do not agree with the officer’s conclusion in the report that you were speeding at the time of the accident, you will have a difficult time having that statement changed. Likewise, if you disagree with a witness’s statement about how the accident occurred, you probably won’t be able to get that information changed.
In the case of police reports containing disputed facts, your only real recourse would be to write your own statement, calling attention to the disputed information and providing your own detailed version of that same information. You can then submit that statement to the reporting law enforcement agency and hope that it is subsequently added to the report as an addendum. But keep in mind that whether to add your proposed addendum to the existing police report falls squarely within the reporting officer's discretion.
Whether you disagree with the police report because of factual errors or disputed facts, remember that police officers are human and sometimes make mistakes. If the police officer who prepared your accident report made an error, consider contacting the reporting agency and asking to speak with the responding officer. If a conversation is possible, raise your concerns about the report and request that a correction be made. Give your honest, detailed account of what you believe the report should reflect. If the officer denies your request, then write and submit your own addendum to the report and ask that it be included along with the original.
Because police reports can be critical to a car accident case, it may make sense to consider contacting an experienced car accident lawyer if you disagree with any facts or conclusions contained in a police report. More: Why Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?